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2021 4. Middle Ages Africa Asia ★★★★☆ Europe Reviews

Powers and Thrones

★★★★☆ (2021)
After reading this book, I asked my dad to buy me Dan Jones’ Plantagenets for Christmas. So I clearly enjoyed reading it. At 639 pages long (excluding index and bibliography) it makes light work of a 1,000 years of predominantly European history. In the opening few pages we are promised ‘it is going to fun’ and it delivers…

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2021 6. Pre-Historic ★★★☆☆ Europe Reviews

Scenes from Prehistoric Life

★★★☆☆ (2021)
4070 years ago on the east coast of Britain a small community of about 200 people built a circular wooden palisade about 7 metres across. Right in the centre of this circle of upright timbers was an oak tree…

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2. Late Modern 2021 ★★★★★ Europe Reviews

The Fall of Robespierre

★★★★★ (2021)
“GREAT CONSPIRACY. Today would have been one of the greatest events that France has ever known if conspiracy had had its way.”

What had so shocked Parisian diarist Celestin Guittard de Floriban were the earth-shaking events of 27 July 1794 that culminated in the execution by guillotine of Maximillian Robespierre, who only 24 hours before had been at the height of power in Revolutionary France…

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1. Contemporary 2. Late Modern 2021 Asia ★★★☆☆ Reviews

From Rebel to Ruler

★★★☆☆ (2021)
My in-laws like to tell a story about when the communists came to town. Their home was in a small village just outside the county town, about 5 hours west of Beijing. In the 1930s and 1940s the town was overrun by the Japanese…

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1. Contemporary 2. Late Modern 2021 ★★★★☆ Europe North America Reviews

Dress Codes

★★★★☆ (2021)
Richard Thompson Ford, the author of How Fashion Made History, loves suits. Really loves them. And to some extent, he has written a book explaining how all fashion up to the present day leads to suits as the ultimate in menswear…

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2021 8. All time periods ★★★★☆ Global Reviews

About Time

★★★★☆ (2021)
Clocks are about more than just telling the time. At one level this is a statement of the obvious: we all know that the watch you wear is not chosen purely for its practicality as a time-keeping device…

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2. Late Modern 2021 7. Pre-Human ★★★☆☆ Europe Reviews

Making Deep History

★★★☆☆ (2021)
How do you envisage a million years? Clive Gamble in “Making Deep History: Zeal, Perseverance and the Time Revolution of 1859” tell us that Charles Darwin was advised in 1868 to try this exercise: take a strip of paper 83 feet 9 inches (25.4 metres) long and stretch it around the walls of a large room. Then draw a thick thin pencil line across the strip that is 0.1 inches (2.5 mm) wide. This pencil line represents 100 years.

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2. Late Modern 2021 Asia ★★★★☆ Reviews

The Last Embassy

★★★★☆ (2021)
“The Dutch present ships have arrived at the Tiger’s Mouth, like tall inns on the oyster-shell mirror of the water, a joyful noise ringing out.
They’re filled with precious offerings, but first they must transmit their official document, wrapped in gold.
荷兰贡舶虎门收,蠔镜声嚣水上楼。
琛献先传金叶表,翎开还整翠云裘。”
Wang Wengao 王文诰

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2021 4. Middle Ages Asia ★★★★☆ Reviews

The Horde

★★★★☆ (2021)
I first learned to fear the power of the Mongols while playing the computer game Medieval II Total War. Playing as king of the English I was pretty pleased with my thuggish army of knights and archers. By the year 1250 they had expanded my empire into most of France, a good proportion of the German states and also the Russian principalities. A small advance force of bowmen and men-at-arms had just attacked and captured Novgorod (unprovoked) when the Mongols appeared on the horizon.

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2. Late Modern 2021 3. Early Modern 4. Middle Ages Asia ★★☆☆☆ Reviews

Empire of Silver

★★☆☆☆ (2021)
Silver mining is not an easy job – when you dig the raw ore out of the ground it typically contains less than 0.1% silver – 1 part in a thousand. You then have to go through a laborious process of discarding the the 0.99% that you don’t want and turning that precious 0.1% into something shiny, attractive and valuable. Reading the financial history book “Empire of Silver: a new monetary history of China” by Jin Xu can feel a bit like mining silver. The valuable nuggets of insight can feel very laborious to extract. After you have finished you will have a little pile of intellectual treasures but many readers may feel that the payoff was not worth the effort.